Samir Thapar along with co-driver Gurinder Mann of JCT Rallying team rolled back the years by winning the South India Rally, the third round of the FMSCI Indian Rally Championship. Driving a Mitsubishi Evo X, Thapar finished ahead of championship leader Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) of Team Mahindra Adventure finished second overall ahead of PG Abhilash (Kumar Ramaswamy) piloting a Mitsubishi Evo 6.
Thapar had enjoyed a sizeable overnight lead over Gill – winner of the previous two IRC rounds in Nashik and Coimbatore and again showcased the pace and power of the Evo by winning all the four stages, including the Spectator Special Stage with plenty to spare.
Thapar, 50, had last won a National championship event in 1997 before quitting the sport while for 49-year old Mann, a multiple Indian champion in his hey days, it was his first success since winning the Asia Zone in 2000.
The Delhi-based driver commented, “It is a great moment for us oldies and winning an event after such a long time is just fantastic. The stages, the organization and just about everything here was perfect. Yesterday, during the first loop, I didn’t have the Pirelli tyres which arrived here in time for the second run and they made a huge difference. The car too was just about right and of course, we both are extremely happy to win here today".
Meanwhile, Rahul Kanthraj (Vivek Bhatt) of Team Yokohama in a Mitsubishi Cedia held his overnight position to win the IRC 2000cc class quite comfortably.
The IRC 1600cc class saw overnight leader Vikram Devadasen (Vivek Bhatt) of Team Yokohama slip to third position as he lost time on hard compound tyres while Arjun Rao (Satish Rajagopal), trailing by eight seconds, seized the opportunity to win while Phalguna Urs (Anoop Kumar) came in second.
In the FMSCI 1600 Cup, Adith KC (Harish KN), placed second overnight, won the honours with leader Raghunandan B (Suraj K) retiring in the day’s first Stage.
Provisional classifications (after Leg 2):
1. Samir Thapar / Gurinder Mann (JCT Rally, Evo X) (1hr, 37mins, 45.6secs)
2. Gaurav Gill / Musa Sherif (Mahindra Adventure, XUV 500) (01:40:02.5)
3.Abhilash PG / Kumar Ramaswamy (REA PGA Motorsport, Evo 6) (01:41:16.8)
1. Rahul Kanthraj / Vivek Bhatt (Team Yokohama, Cedia) (01:44:38.4)
2. Prithvi Dominic / Ravindra MS (Cedia) (01:46:06.7)
3. Sumit Panjabi / Venu Ramesh Kumar (Cedia) (01:46:39.6)
1. Arjun Rao / Satish Rajagopal (VW Polo) (01:42:56.2)
2. Phalguna Urs / Anoop Kumar (VW Polo) (01:42:58.0)
3. Vikram Devadasen / Srikant Gowda (Team Yokohama, VW Polo) (01:43:20.0)
FMSCI 1600cc Cup:
1. Adith KC / Harish KN (Honda City VTEC) (01:47:33.9)
2. Aeman Khadri / Sagar M (Maruti Baleno) (01:49.14.2)
3. Bopaiah KM / K Karumbaiah (Maruti Esteem) (01:50:14.3)